Health Links [HL]: What does being a Healthy Workplace mean to your organization?
Boulder County [BC]: We’re proud that Boulder County refers to employees as our most valuable asset. This isn’t just a tag line. The county recognizes that employee well-being is critical to the success of the organization and ultimately benefits society. Employees who enjoy their work, have strong connections to others, manage their finances effectively, and have good physical and mental health, are productive and engaged. Our wellness program supports employees in all aspects of well-being so that they can reduce stress, remain active, and invest time in their relationships and communities.
[HL]: How does your organization create a culture of health, safety, and well-being for employees?
[BC]: To provide quality programs that are inclusive and diverse, we’ve shifted our strategic focus to well-being which has opened up so many doors for our program beyond fitness and nutrition. We cover topics ranging from organizing finances to stress relief to career mentoring, in addition to traditional behavior-based programs. And these are just some options our employees can choose from.
We’ve made a concerted effort to improve the inclusivity of our wellness platform. Working with our vendor, we have been able to eliminate gender-specific tasks within the platform. This has been a very important change for our transgender and non-binary employees.
We also believe that our family-friendly workplace efforts tie in very closely with our wellness program. We’ve been able to expand paid parental leave from four weeks to six weeks of paid caregiver leave, which helps employees care for any family member, including aging parents. We also have a robust infants-at-work program and have had over 50 babies in our offices to date. We have over 30 lactation rooms across our campuses. These offerings are a testament to our commitment to our employees and are setting us apart as an employer of choice. Health, wellness, and safety are woven into our policies and culture.
[HL]: What changes have you seen among your employees, their families, or the surrounding community as a result of your program(s)?
[BC]: The county has a passion for inclusiveness. We ensure that inclusivity shows up in our program design, marketing, and offerings. We’ve opened up our wellness program to every single employee, not just those who are benefits eligible, as well as their eligible spouses and partners. Sixty percent of our employees and 22.5% of their partners participate in our wellness program. And these numbers grow each year. Members of our leadership team not only participate in the wellness program, they walk the talk and model healthy behaviors for their employees. They also give staff permission to participate in wellness during work hours.
As a small local government, we have a responsibility to our tax payers to be fiscally responsible and that includes the performance of our self-funded medical plans. Participants in our wellness program are healthier and have fewer claims expenses than their non-participating counterparts. This data helps us show the value of the wellness program in a very tangible way. It has also helped our insurance renewals each year by keeping increases to both employee and county premiums relatively low.
[HL]: How has Health Links helped your organization?
[BC]: I really appreciate the Healthy Workplace Action Plan. It serves as an easy to follow roadmap to continue to make enhancements to our programs, which can be difficult with a mature program. I also like that we have the chance to help develop the plan with a Health Links advisor. We were able to customize the plan to meet our needs.
[HL]: What tips or pieces of advice would you give to a business looking to create a healthier, safer, and happier environment?
[BC]: It’s really important to form a diverse committee if you’re looking to make changes. Try to hear from as many perspectives as possible to ensure that your changes will appeal to everyone. I think it’s also important to team up with an expert, like Health Links, to identify areas of improvement and put an action plan in place.